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Having the Faith to Face the Lions

Standing Firm & Staying Faithful In God's Sovereignty -- An Exposition of Daniel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:35
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Faced Any “Lions” this week?

Any one here this morning a cat person? I personally do not like cats, I am allergic to them for one thing…but there is just something about cats that just disturbs me…they can stare you down for hours with this evil look (show picture of evil cat)...I just don’t like them…I think they know that too…because they come up to me and want to get in my face like “I know you are allergic to meeow…so here take that…achoo!”…I then have to go and take a shower…burn my clothes, etc. cats are just mean to do that to me.
Even though I do not like Fluffy the House cat, I do marvel at the majesty and raw power of lions…and I am so glad when we go to the zoo they are on the other side of the fence with a mote and a wall between us...if I had to face one of those beasts in the wild I would probably scream like a school girl…I would venture to say that every person here this morning would probably do the same thing…you would scream, cry, shout, faint, etc. if you ever stood face to face with a lion with nothing in between you...
Facing a real lion or a den of lions with nothing in between you and them to protect you from them would be terrifying…I would venture to say that not many of us in here this morning have ever or will ever encounter lions like that…but I do believe that at one point or another, perhaps even yet today, there are some here who are facing “lions” in their life and are terrified and trapped in a den of them...
Some of you are in a job situation right now where there is just incredible pressure from your boss…your employer is making unreasonable demands…or perhaps there is this fierce competition to get noticed…and so every day you go into work, you can almost hear the roars. You can almost see the sharp teeth that are set to tear into you and devour you…your place of employment is much like a lion's den.
Some are facing a sinful habit that's ready to pounce. You remember what God said to Cain? He said, "Sin is crouching at your door ready to devour you." You want to have victory, but the power of sin, and the power of your own lust and the power of our adversary, is incredibly strong. It's like that lion wants to pounce on you and swipe you with its huge paws...
Perhaps you’ve just heard an extreme diagnosis of a health concern for you or someone close to you...maybe its an addiction you just can’t break free from...Or maybe your marriage is coming apart at the seams right now…you have a rebellious child who just won’t listen to your counsel...
Perhaps you are here right now and the world around you is just this den of lions that wants to destroy you and devour you…my friend there is hope!
With that open your bible to Daniel 6

Historical Context

Whether you are new to our study or not, it is important for us to have an historical knowledge of what transpires in the book of Daniel…the first 6 chapters are actual historical accounts that begin with the establishment of Babylon as the world power in 605 BC...Daniel was a Jewish teenager who was deported to the country of Babylon along with several other choice young people by King Nebuchadnezzar.
The title of this series is Standing Firm and Staying Faithful in the Sovereignty of God because this book is all about how Daniel and his friends were able to live faithfully for God even though they were in a foreign land, in the midst of a corrupt culture, away from any kind of godly parental authority or influence. They resolve in their hearts to be faithful, regardless of their circumstances, and God empowered them to do that.
By the time we get to Daniel 6, Daniel is nearing the end of his life and his ministry. Seventy years have passed. Daniel served several different Babylonian kings and now he is employed in the service of the Persian kings.
Last week we looked at Daniel 5 and saw how Darius the Mede came in and conquered Babylon for the Medes and the Persians.
That is very significant for the simple fact that it proves the incredible accuracy of the word of God...Remember, God gave King Nebuchadnezzar a dream back in chapter two about the four kingdoms…and now here in Daniel 6, we see the transition from the kingdom of Babylon, the head of gold, to the kingdom of Medo-Persia, the breasts and arms of silver.
The Babylonian captivity is over…they are being allowed to return to Jerusalem…see Ezra 1 & Ezra 6 … you see the story of God's people beginning to go back to their homeland to rebuild the temple and rebuild the city…all in a direct fulfillment of the word of God…God uses Cyrus the king of Persia to not only send them back, but to fund that project as well.
So while the return is going on, Daniel is here in Babylon...
He is now some eighty years old, the captivity is over, and so now Daniel can rest, he did his job…time to hang up the “prophet sneakers” and exchange them for some “retirement slippers”...
No…what we will see in the most famous historical account in Daniel is God is going to use Daniel again, in the twilight of his life, to be a trophy of His glory and grace…in this actual historical record we learn a very powerful lesson...

Main Point: God Wants To Help You Face Your Lions

Daniel was a man of great faith and spiritual integrity. He was not ashamed of his faith and did his best to serve God and the king faithfully…when life once again, took an unexpected turn for Daniel, he continued to trust God and allowed Him to work His plan...When life turns into a lion’s den…God can provide the strength you need to stand strong and stay faithful.
Let’s look at 3 Insights to Help Us Stand Strong and Stay Faithful When Facing our “Lions”

Pleasing God Must Be Our Highest Priority (1-9)

Even though Daniel was in a foreign land, in the middle of a corrupted culture, he spent his lifetime seeking to honor God with his life and God gave him a faith that stood the test of time.
2 Corinthians 5:9–10 NASB95
Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Daniel knew God was watching…he knew there was nothing he could hide from God…so Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not allow himself to become tainted or corrupted...

Pleasing God Makes You Different In Character

Remember what Daniel purposed in his heart in chapter 1?
Daniel 1:8 NASB95
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.
Read Daniel 6:3 — “he distinguished himself” is written as a participle stressing the fact that Daniel kept distinguishing himself” …it was his nature to be a man of integrity…his heart was purposed to not be defiled...
Daniel not only had wisdom and the ability to interpret dreams, but he also possessed great skill politically…Daniel served every king with integrity regardless of how bad and evil that king may have been. Even within a wicked government, Daniel still found reason and resolve to serve honorably…he was often in a place of high leadership… in Dan 1:20, Neb. found him 10x better than his own highly educated men…in Dan 5:12, he had earned the reputation for being a problem solver...
The new king was setting up a new government and so he appointed 120 officials to help him govern (satraps — means protector of the kingdom, used loosely to designate royally appointed officials), the Persian Empire was the largest Empire the world had known at that time, and so it was divided into many smaller territories...
their job was to collect taxes and provide security in all the territories and to prevent loss of land and money…he then appointed three commissioners over the satraps, one of whom was Daniel.
the satraps were to report their activities to the three administrators to ensure the Persian kingdom would not suffer loss — the indication here is that there was an element of distrust from the king towards the satraps
Darius somehow knew about Daniel’s track record with the other kings and his plan was to promote Daniel to “president” or “prime minister”… because he had possessed the integrity that he could be trusted to keep the corrupted administrators accountable…
Daniel’s character was different because his priority was different…pleasing God.

Pleasing God Makes You Different In Your Attitude

an extraordinary spirit...”Daniel was made Prime Minister not just because he was honest, but because everything about him exuded godliness.
Think about how many kings Daniel has now served under, and not all of them were good and nice, and not once we do we get the impression Daniel ever had the attitude of “what’s the use”…or having the frame of mind to cut corners and say “good enough for government work”
Not only did Daniel do his work with excellence, he had a good attitude in doing it, regardless of who was the king…it’s clear the Holy Spirit had been working in and through Daniel throughout the entire book…there were even people who did not know God who attested to this…he lived in such a way that people around him said, he is different…he has an excellent spirit about him.
Push the pause button for a moment and consider the impact that ought to have on us today…do people naturally want to be around you because you display an excellent spirit that reflects the character of your God?…at work does your boss and your co-workers look forward to seeing you and talking with you because you have an excellent spirit, in your home do you have to have your 2 pots of coffee before anyone wants to say good morning to you, kids do your parents look forward to you getting out of bed in the morning because you have an excellent spirit that is reflective of your relationship with God?

Pleasing God Makes You Different In the Way You Live.

It causes you to want to be holy.

Read Daniel 6:4-5
"Lived in a way that was blameless."…the king’s plan to elevate Daniel really honked off some of the satraps and the two other administrators…so they began to examine his governmental activities to discover some flaw in his character or professional abilities…they were looking to impeach him…(sound familiar?)…but here is the kicker…they found nothing (yet it did not stop them…(again sound familiar?)
he was neither politically corrupt nor negligent in the performance of his work…(boy could we use some Daniel’s in our time!)…because he was driven to be holy…to live righteously...
He was faithful…there was no negligence or corruption at all in him... They couldn't find a charge. They couldn't find a fault because he was faithful to live a life of consistent holiness.

It causes you to obey God rather than man.

They concluded , there was only one area in which they might find a conflict between Daniel and the government…his religion…they looked for something in his religious beliefs that could disqualify him from serving (is history repeating itself today?)
they knew Daniel worshipped only one God…not the many gods of their culture…Daniel’s choice would be to obey God or man (laws of Medes and Persians) and they knew which one he would choose.
It is clear from the text that Daniel did not hide his convictions…he was not a secret disciple who was ashamed or afraid to speak of his God…it is also clear from the text that he was not going to compromise even in the face of punishment or death.
His love for God, his desire to serve God, his allegiance to God, his passion for God was evident in all he did and he was not going to be swayed from doing what he knew God wanted him to do...It was just a natural and a regular part of who he was. It was a regular part of the way he thought, and what he did...in the way he conducted business, and they knew his holiness and integrity would get in the way of their plans to get richer... the way he responded to and served the authority, even though they were godless...he believed it was his priority to practice God's word…EVERYDAY.
Please don't miss the point...this is not about Daniel.
This is really about the God of Daniel…the God of Daniel took him when he was a teenager, and placed him in a wicked and godless environment for over 70 years…why?

God needed someone with spiritual integrity and the spiritual fortitude to stand strong in Him, to be that much needed example of a life that is fully commited to Him with unwavering faithfulness.

Implication — Is Pleasing God Your Highest Priority?

Daniel had a faith that stood the test of time because he purposed in his heart as a teenager to live for God, regardless of who was around him and in spite of the negative circumstances.
You have to start at the cross…GOSPEL.

If you want to have the faith that empowers you to face your lions, you have to cultivate a relationship with Christ.

You have to make a decision…both your eternal destiny and how you want to live…you have to make a decision of whether or not you want to be like Daniel…to possess the kind of trust in God that communicates to others very clearly that the “Spirit of God” is within youyou’ve got to make a decision of whether or not you are going to come alongside everything that God has given you to grow and change and put forth some effort to be different…to distinguish yourself...
1 Timothy 4:7 NASB95
But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
Discipline or Exercise is the Greek word, gymnodzo…where we get gymnasium from…why do you go to the gym? You want to get stronger, more fit, etc. And what do you do? You work out.
You don't sit on the machine and say “okay machine make me fit and stronger” and then just sit there and do nothing…you sweat a little or a lot…you expend energy...
But sadly, that is how many people who call themselves Christians believe it ought to work when it comes to having the spiritual strength to face their lions…they believe that God ought to somehow just zap them with a level of maturity that needs no work…they can’t handle the lion’s den of their life right now because they aren’t particularly faithful…they’re not working at it...They're not employing the weapons of warfare that God equipped them with and they are not putting the kind of effort into growing that God desires.
You’ve got to be willing to say in your heart “I need to spend more time in God’s gym instead of Gold’s gym.”… “I’ve got to be faithful to do my part to grow the way God intended for me to grow”..."I'm going to be faithful to the worship services at our church…I’m going to be faithful to surround myself with people who love God…I am going to be faithful to come and sing great songs with them and to have a heart that is willing to be challenged and changed by the word of God."
I want to speak honestly and lovingly here to you this morning…there are some of you here this morning that never miss a day at Gold’s gym (or whatever name it has)…your workout schedule is set in concrete and you discipline yourself to be faithful to your workout plan…but when it comes to faithfulness to the house of God and following His workout plan, you simply squeeze it in or squeeze it out...I want to encourage you to step up that faithfulness if you want to be like Daniel.
We have other times beside Sunday AM worship when we gather to learn God’s Word, fellowship and encourage one another which are all part of God’s workout plan…we want to develop small groups, but we need people who will be faithful to commit to leading those small groups and then people who will be faithful to attend those groups because they recognize that much of the growing process takes place in the crucible of relationships…
We could also mention here this morning your personal time in the word…or your personal time in prayer…is the only time you read your Bible on Sunday or prayer is limited to bedtime or before meals? Look at Daniel…he committed himself to God as a teenager and kept that commitment into his eighties...
Pleasing God was Daniel’s priority and it made a difference in the way he faced the lions...
Here’s the second insight we gain from Daniel’s life...

How You Handle Trials Communicates the “Bigness” of Your God (10 - 23).

Your God is bigger than your opposition so don’t give up or in when life is stacked against you.

Notice the threat of punishment and death never changed his spiritual disciplines....it was Daniel’s custom to pray and give thanks to God three times a day…he was a man of prayer...
Read Daniel 6:10-11
"When Daniel knew that the document was signed he entered his house's roof chamber. He had windows opened toward Jerusalem... He continued kneeling."
Do you see that? Not he started. "Man things are getting hard, better pray." No. "He continued kneeling on his knees, praying and giving thanks."
Not griping or complaining, no pouting...he's giving thanks as he had been doing previously.
Even though he had been part of their culture now for seventy years, the expression in Daniel 6:13one of the exiles of Judah” was a slam against Daniel…for the mere reason of humiliation and giving the appearance of disloyalty…they even persuaded the king that Daniel was disrespecting him…the opposition was severely stacked against him, yet Daniel did not waver in his faith or practice because he believed in a much bigger God.
Daniel deliberately defied the law of the land because he recognized there was no higher authority in his life than God…see Acts 5:29
there may be times when those lions in your life threaten great loss or even death unless you compromise…as the world becomes further separated from God and more sinful as a result of that separation, you will find that you have to take an unpopular stand or position, sometimes that stand may violate the law…don’t give in or give up just because the threat is real…
Remember your God is bigger than all that so commit yourself to God who judges rightly and trust Him.

Your God is bigger than your trials, so you need to be sure your responses clearly communicate that to others.

Remember Daniel is some eighty years old now and he experiences perhaps the greatest trial of his life, yet there is no questioning God here…there is no “God I’ve been faithful to you for so many years, its time for the young ones to step up…there is no “God I’m tired...” regardless of how Daniel must have felt, he never stopped being that example God wanted him to be.
Read Daniel 6:14-18
The order is carried out and Darius proclaims a wavering belief that God was going to rescue himDaniel 6:16…the way Daniel responded to life and this particular trial was noticed by Darius…even though it was a weak faith statement from Darius, there was still a recognition of the reality of Daniel’s God and his power.
now look at Dan 6:20 — Up to this point Darius did not possess a sufficient faith in Yahweh…he was hopeful that God would rescue Him, but not sure.
Daniel must have had an impression on Darius because Darius characterized Daniel as one who served his God continually…His lifestyle was noticed…how Daniel responded to life in the Empire and all the things associated with it were noticed by Darius and the other Jews as well.

Your God is big enough to deliver you, so trust Him even if He chooses not to deliver you in the way you want or expected.

Read Dan 6:22, 23
Daniel explains that God sent his angel to protect him against the lions because he was innocent in God’s sight and that he had done nothing wrong against the king…the lions were unable to bite or claw him.
Who was the “angel” who spent the night with Daniel? The Greek Translation of the OT, the Septuagint, identifies this angel as God himself…the same individual that was in the furnace in Dan 3…he is believed by most scholars, I agree with them, that this angel is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus.
Here is something we don’t want to miss...

That wasn't going to be the end of Daniel until God said it was going to be the end of Daniel. So what that means for us is that we are immortal until God’s plan in us and for us is complete!

Our belief in the sovereignty of God says that God can do what he wants, however he wants and that our job is to be faithful to proclaim his goodness no matter whether we live or die…Daniel never proclaimed God would deliver him…much like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego..."Look, God can deliver us from the fiery furnace if he wants to but let it be known, king, even if he doesn't choose to deliver us in this particular situation, we're not bowing down to your gods."
God makes a point to inform us that his deliverance of Daniel was because of Daniel’s trust.
Just because you trust God, He may not always deliver you in miraculous ways…it may be part of God’s plan that you have to suffer as martyrs…it is God’s choice.

Biblical faith is not believing that God will. Biblical faith is believing that God CAN and then trusting Him with whatever He decides to do that is in your best spiritual interest.

Having the faith to face the lions means 1) Pleasing God is Your Highest Priority, 2) Your Responses to Trials Communicates the Bigness of Your God and 3)...

Your Willingness to Let God Do His Work In and Through You Often Opens the Door For Blessing(24-28).

Let God Vindicate You

Read Daniel 6:24
Daniel’s integrity was vindicated by God himself.
the king demands those who maliciously (lit. eaten Daniel’s pieces) accused Daniel be thrown to the lions…not just them, but their families also…this was a practice according to Persian custom to prohibit retaliation from family members.
Just so we don’t think the lions were tame, old or just not hungry enough to devour Daniel, the text says the lions did not let them reach the bottom of the pit…they overpowered them and crushed their bones…once again proving the miracle of God’s deliverance.

Be Sure to Honor God

Read Dan. 6:26-27
Darius issues a public decree for people in all the land to give proper recognition to the God of Daniel…He is the only living and eternal God whose sovereignty never ends.
God delivers and works in our lives, in various ways, so that we and the world around us, can see His power and His reality.

Watch God Bless Your Faithfulness

Read Dan 6:28
Remember Daniel was in his eighties and went through perhaps the hardest trial of his life, yet he never stopped being faithful…God would continue to use Daniel by promoting him to 2nd in command in all of Persia…this would prove beneficial as the Jews were now allowed to return to Israel to begin the rebuilding projects…see Ezra 1 & Ezra 6...
Daniel allowed God to use him in his old age and he became an example of the power of God to use an uncompromising life.

Lesson For Life: Trust God To Always Work For His Glory and Your Good

Romans 8:28–29 NASB95
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
You and those lions you face right now are in God’s den…God will always work, even when the lions are roaring their loudest and ready to pounce on you, He will always work to make sure you have the opportunity to grow in your trust of Him…and to conform you to His Son
Wise is the person who knows and lives faithfully for him.
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